Election panel rejects Mamata’s charge on transfers

On Friday night, ECI had replaced police commissioners of Calcutta and Bidhannagar

By TT Bureau in Calcutta/New Delhi
  • Published 8.04.19, 12:51 AM
  • Updated 8.04.19, 2:57 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Mamata Banerjee (in picture) continued her attack on the Centre over its alleged use of government machinery and institutions to corner the Opposition. Telegraph file picture

The Election Commission has rejected Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegation that it ordered the transfer of senior IPS officers at the behest of the BJP and asserted that the poll panel was “fully within its rights” to take such decisions when the model code of conduct is in force.

The panel made its stand clear in a three-page letter sent by deputy election commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar to Mamata on Saturday night.

In the letter, Kumar has referred to Section 28A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which gives the commission powers for the transfer and posting of officials when the model code of conduct is in force. He also mentioned a ruling by High Court of Kerala that upheld the provision in 1994.

“It is unfortunate that an exercise carried out by ECI only for the duration of the model code of conduct is being labelled as arbitrary, motivated at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre,” wrote Kumar, referring to Mamata’s allegations.

“It would not be correct and dignified to respond to such averments to prove/burnish its credentials,” he added.

On Friday night, the commission had replaced police commissioners of Calcutta and Bidhannagar — Anuj Sharma and Gyanwant Singh, respectively — and the district police chiefs of Birbhum and Diamond Harbour.

In her letter to the commission, the Trinamul Congress chief had demanded a review of the officers’ transfer. The deputy election commissioner’s reply made it clear the review was unlikely.

The transfers, Kumar said, were based on “cumulative feedback” from a deputy election commissioner who oversees the poll process in Bengal and special central police observer Vivek Dubey.

In her letter, Mamata had underscored the importance of Calcutta and Bidhannagar and said those who replaced Sharma and Singh did not have adequate knowledge of the area and the people.

“Even the officers who have been posted in their place are of similar seniority and being from the West Bengal cadre they are expected to know about the field situation of West Bengal,” wrote Kumar.

However, Mamata continued her attack on the Centre over its alleged use of government machinery and institutions to corner the Opposition. “Why is the Centre intervening this way in matters of states? Why was the chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh removed?” she asked at an election rally in Maynaguri on Sunday.

“Why not remove your own cabinet secretary? This is not the election of Bengal but an election of Delhi,” Mamata said, adding she had worked with several prime ministers but had never seen anyone as “vindictive” as Modi.